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Early Bird Tickets On Sale Now for the Arizona Rural Policy Forum

Wickenburg, Arizona (May 15, 2018) – The Arizona Rural Policy Forum, an annual conference convening hundreds of rural leaders and stakeholders that rotates its location every year, heads to Wickenburg, Arizona, for the 2018 conference. Held August 8-10 at multiple locations throughout the town, the Rural Policy Forum connects rural economic development professionals, nonprofits, community leaders, business owners, and other rural stakeholders who are interested in sustaining rural communities. The event is hosted by Local First Arizona Foundation and the Arizona Rural Development Council.

“We are looking forward to this year’s Rural Policy Forum hosted in Wickenburg, as the town does a fantastic job of preserving its heritage and connecting residents and visitors to its history,” said Kimber Lanning, Executive Director of Local First Arizona Foundation. “Attendees will have a wonderful time exploring Wickenburg while also learning best practices from their peers through a heavily-packed agenda of programming.”

Past host locations of the Rural Policy Forum have included Safford/Thatcher, Pinetop-Lakeside, Globe-Miami, and others.

“When visitors want a real, authentic taste of the Wild West, they visit Wickenburg. The town has successfully merged the past with the present in a way that awakens the cowboy in everyone,” said Julie Brooks of the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce. “We’re pleased to be bringing the Arizona Rural Policy Forum to Wickenburg this year to show the entire state our best successes as well as learn from other rural communities.”


This year’s Rural Policy Forum keynote speaker is Charles L. Marohn, the Founder and President of Strong Towns whose mission is to support a model of development that allows America’s cities, towns, and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient. He is also the lead author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns — Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 — as well as the author of A World Class Transportation System.

In Marohn’s keynote address titled “Neighborhoods First,” he will demonstrate how rural towns can take less risk and grow financially stronger, all while directly serving the people already living and working in your city. “By observing how neighbors live their lives, by asking them where their daily struggles are, by getting out on the street and discovering what is actually going on, any local government can discern what their community’s pressing needs are,” said Marohn.













Marohn will also lead a breakout session focused on explaining in plain language how so many American cities have found themselves in decline after decades of so-called growth. “The problem lies in the current model of development — one which values short-term gains over long-term prosperity. To strengthen our cities and ensure their economic success, we must look to traditional ways of building cities,” said Marohn. In this presentation, Marohn will explain how active citizens, local officials, and design professionals can change the negative trajectory in their towns and help them to become more resilient — no matter what challenges lie ahead.

Additionally, Teresa Kitterage, VP and COO of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), will present a keynote address to Rural Policy Forum attendees. Kitterage will present on a number of topics, including the work of RUPRI and the programs they offer like the Cultural Wealth Lab; RUPRI’s collaborative work with Art of the Rural (AOTR) and addressing the critical need of arts and culture to rural communities; and discussing how RUPRI is utilizing collective impact investing and how rural communities can use this tool as an economic support system.

“Chuck’s and Teresa’s presentations will be game-changers for communities looking to grow more resilient in an uncertain future,” said Lanning. “We are thrilled to be bringing them to Arizona to share their ideas and expertise with leaders in our own state.”




Arizona Rural Policy Forum Attendees can purchase conference tickets at a discounted early bird rate of $99 through July 7. Ticket prices will increase to the general admission price of $125 on July 8. Registration includes breakfast and lunch for both Thursday, August 9, and Friday, August 10, as well as access to all Forum programming, presentations, and workshops. Tickets can be purchased at https://azrdc.org/2018-rural-policy-forum/tickets/.


Attendees may also add optional experiences to their overall Rural Policy Forum package:

  • Wickenburg Economic Development Tour, August 8, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – This year’s economic development bus tour will feature in-depth conversations about what makes the Wickenburg region’s economy hum. Stops include Del E.Webb Center for the Performing Arts, Martori Farms in Aguila, Date Creek Ranch, BearCat Manufacturing, Vulture City, and Meadows Behavioral Healthcare facility. The cost to attend is $25.

  • Taste of Wickenburg, August 8, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – The Rural Policy Forum’s launch party will be at Desert Caballeros Western Museum (21 N Frontier St, Wickenburg, AZ 85390) and will feature a strolling dinner with cuisine from the region’s best restaurants, live music, and a cash bar. There will be plenty of opportunities to network with Forum attendees and get ready for the conference’s activities ahead. The cost to attend is $25.

  • Dinner with a View, August 9, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – Continue your Rural Policy Forum networking while dining in style following Thursday’s sessions. Attendees will join fellow conference-goers under the stars at the Wickenburg Ranch and Social Club (430 Club Terrace Way, Wickenburg, AZ 85390), a world-class golf resort with fire pits and plenty of room to relax. The cost to attend is $30.

  • Professional Development – The Rural Policy Forum is recognized by the Economic Development Academy of Arizona as a professional development event that counts towards credit of completion of one Module 1 course. Attendees can purchase the Module as an add-on to general registration to count towards their professional development for an additional $55.


More information about the 2018 Arizona Rural Policy Forum is available online at https://azrdc.org/2018-rural-policy-forum/. Prices above do not include ticketing fees. Details for the agenda and other programming will be released on a rolling basis.


About Local First Arizona Foundation


Founded in 2009, Local First Arizona Foundation works to build a diverse, inclusive and prosperous Arizona economy by focusing on a wide range of strategic initiatives that target systems of inequity. These initiatives include powering Arizona’s entrepreneurs through the Fuerza Local Business Accelerator Program; celebrating Arizona’s homegrown foods through Good Food Finder, and strengthening small-town economies through the Arizona Rural Development Council. Find more information on building community self-reliance at localfirstazfoundation.org.

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